Propane industry 2022: A sense of normalcy returns

December 22, 2022 By    

Is it just me or did 2022 feel a little more like normal around the propane industry?

Sure, we’re feeling the headwinds, as we detail in our State of the Industry report. But in-person events were feeling natural again – exactly what this close-knit, personable industry needed in separating from the impacts of a global pandemic and coming together face to face.

Industry members returned to Nashville, Tennessee, for the National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) Southeastern Propane Expo – in the familiar month of April, no less, and only six months after the pandemic-delayed 2021 event. And four inductees were back on the stage and in the spotlight during the LP Gas Hall of Fame induction ceremony following the event’s two-year hiatus.

A year of wins

Late in the year, we learned about an uptick in U.S. retail propane sales. An annual report commissioned by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) showed odorized sales in 2021 totaling 9.54 billion gallons, a slight increase from 2020 sales.

Industry leaders shared throughout about propane’s prospects in some not-so-familiar market segments, including cannabis, food trucks, ports and marine applications. Power generation and engine projects gained attention, and perhaps momentum, in 2022.

PERC continues to put millions of dollars behind uncovering new uses and users of propane. The council sees potential with millennials, who, in one study, perceive propane positively.

“When they understand propane is not only a low-carbon fuel in the conventional version, but renewable propane offers even greater environmental benefits, we can shape their opinion of this energy,” declares Erin Hatcher, senior vice president of communications and marketing at PERC.

A year of losses

LP Gas Hall of Fame inductee Doug Auxier died less than a month after the 2022 induction ceremony, where the longtime propane retailer from Auxier Gas delivered a memorable speech in front of a record crowd. The industry also mourned the death of 2017 Hall of Fame inductee Bill Young of Superior Energy Systems.

Stalwart state association executives planned their goodbyes. Among them: Joy Alafia (Western Propane Gas Association), Corky Clark (South Carolina), Deb Grooms (Iowa), Jenni McKeen (Georgia), Greg Noll (Kansas) and Tom Osina (West Virginia). Katina Pearl-Blando’s goodbye from the New Jersey Propane Gas Association came too soon, as the 51-year-old lost a four-year battle with a rare form of cancer.

We said our own goodbyes to industry veteran Randy Doyle, for the many hard-hitting and thought-provoking columns he contributed to our pages. Thank you, Randy, for “telling it like it is” for over 20 years.

A year of celebrations

Of the Women in Propane’s 10-year anniversary; of Michelle Bimson Maggi becoming the first female chair of the NPGA board of directors; of Ferrellgas’ return as an NPGA member in a sign of solidarity for the industry.

In her initial remarks as chair, Bimson Maggi of AmeriGas urged members “to fight for the industry.”

Because, certainly, the industry is in a fight – some say for its survival – against electrification and those who want to ban gas completely.

New York took a stand this year, with the state association activating its membership and partners in one of the fiercest battles for propane’s future to date. In August, Bill Overbaugh, the executive director, detailed their tactics in the pages of LP Gas.

A year of ‘renewed’ optimism

In my 15 years of covering the industry, I can’t recall such a strong movement toward renewable propane and other renewable energy sources than what we’re witnessing.

From established propane companies accepting loads of renewable propane, to industry companies partnering in the renewable space, to new research about its future: One day, we may look back and say the renewable market in the U.S. began to take shape in 2022.

Let’s turn the page now and see what the future brings.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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